Research predicts rise in IBD in developing world

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24 Oct 2017 --- For the last century, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been a challenge for patients and the medical community in the Western world. Now, research published in The Lancet by Dr. Gilaad Kaplan shows that countries outside the Western world may now be facing the same pattern of increasing IBD rates.

“Over the past 100 years, the incidence of IBD in western countries has climbed and then plateaued,” says Kaplan, an associate professor at the Cumming School of Medicine. “Our research shows that countries outside the western world now appear to be in the first stage of this sequence.”

IBD affects over 0.3 percent of the population in North America and Europe, according to the University of Calgary press release. “IBD is a modern disease, growing in prevalence in North America, Europe and Australia since the 1950s,” says Kaplan. “As countries in Asia, South America and the Middle East have become industrialized, IBD has emerged, and its incidence is rising dramatically. At the turn of the 21st century, it became a global disease.”

Done in collaboration with Siew Ng, Ph.D., at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the research brings together data from all population-based studies reporting on the incidence or prevalence of IBD since 1990. “As newly industrialized countries become more westernized, we can clearly see that the incidence of IBD is also rapidly rising,” says Ng.

As IBD becomes a global problem, Kaplan and Ng are hopeful that a coordinated solution to prevent and treat IBD around the world could be possible.

“Future research should focus on identifying environmental risk factors observed during the early stages of industrialization,” says Ng. Kaplan agrees: “Research into environmental intervention that helps to prevent IBD should be prioritized.”

Kaplan presented the findings at the World Congress of Gastroenterology on October 16 in Orlando, Florida, US. “The increasing prevalence of IBD will challenge clinicians and health policy-makers,” says Kaplan. “Globally, we need to prepare our clinical infrastructure and personnel to manage this complex and costly disease.”

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